by Tracy Lamperti, LMHC, BCETS
I am guessing that there are MANY mommies following that remember the slogan, “Just say no!”
There are lots of social/emotional reasons that make just saying no to drugs difficult, like peer pressure and the fact that studies consistently show that children of divorce/conflict ridden or detached homes are more likely to reach for drugs and alcohol.
But today, we see a host of other factors that make “Just Say No” a mixed up message for children.
1. The psychopharm world has EXPLODED with new drugs, a higher rate of prescribing drugs, a claim that drug “cocktails” (interesting choice of terms) can help people with the emotional issues. And bonus, kids on meds make the lives of parents and teachers “easier.”
2. CHILDREN are the target of psychopharm companies. Approximately 11% of children 4-17 years of age (6.4 million) have been diagnosed with ADHD as of 2011. More than 80% of children who are diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder take prescription medications at some point to treat their symptoms, according to a new nationwide survey of parents by Consumer Reports Health. More than half had tried 2 or 3 different meds. (Citations at end of post.) My colleague, RN NP informs me that the authorization process for med visits is practically non-existent. I can tell you that the authorization process for psychotherapy is arduous. In fact, when I request session for practically any diagnosis these days, I have to answer to the question, “Have you referred the client for a med consult?” And if the answer is no, then I have to answer, “When do you plan to?” or “Why not?”
3. The DARE program is basically gone. As a psychotherapist, I used to see many children who were able to articulate that drugs are bad for you, BECAUSE of what they learned in school in the DARE program. Studies indicate that there was a so-called “boomerang effect” and the program led to a higher incidence of drug use among youth later in life who participated in the program.
4. Drug/alcohol use has seen a cultural shift where we now think of it NOT as a weakness, morally wrong thing to do, issue to be embarrassed about…but as an “illness” or a “genetic disorder.” Our children are getting the message, “poor guy (girl). It’s not their fault.” Interestingly, we are also hearing children who missed their morning dose for ADHD and misbehave, say, “It’s not my fault. My mom forgot to give me my meds.”
5. We are required to have insurance, so why not use it? We tend to run to the doc for medicine before even giving our bodies a chance at healing illnesses. We don’t slow down and take care of ourselves or our loved one, we reach for a pill to get back to our fast pace as quickly as possible, or get our children back to school so we can get back to work. These are practical needs these days. Who can afford to miss work??
6. Marijuana, a drug known for causing “the munchies,” uproarious laughter, dulling of our senses, laziness, etc., is being legalized one bit at a time, one area at a time. Many adults haven’t even gotten it clear in their own mind about whether it should be legal or not and under what circumstances, but somehow we are supposed to help our children understand and teach them not to do it. Huh??
7. Speaking of marijuana, a parents smokes up in the house with the children present, the Department of Children and Families (formerly DSS) gets involved (I’m speaking from professional experience now) and the parent doesn’t even get a clear message, “That’s not permitted! At least smoke in private, away from your children.” Yet, other states are making it illegal to smoke cigarettes in the car when a child is present.
8. And the courts…(again, speaking from professional experience) are ruling on custody matters as serious as parents giving birth to drug addicted babies, and parents addicted to and abusing Suboxone (or methadone – sub in any drug you want). And what about when the parent in question is taking Suboxone as prescribed at “the clinic.” Or how can the judge tell if they are taking it per doctor’s orders, in addition to on the street?
We, as parents, as a culture, are being pressured to accept drugs (and alcohol) and their abuse as part of our everyday lives! It’s a steady race to the bottom and this country might just be in the running for a top spot.
Now, for those who are going to accuse me of blaming them because either they are taking prescription medication or their children are taking it for a mental health diagnosis, I have the following to say:
I am not anti-meds. I have seen adults who were debilitated with anxiety or depression or other issues, begin seeing a psychiatrist or PCP and take medication. They were able to stabilize, regroup and get their life back on track. I am grateful for this and grateful for the option to be utilized. I have seen children who are so out of focus or anxious and in crisis that medication has been instrumental in keeping them in school and helping them and their parents regroup.
I am referring here to a cultural shift that has already taken place and continuing to progress toward reliance on doctors, psychopharm companies, medications, etc. I know there is a huge fascination with zombies presently. I can’t figure that out either. It’s looking to me like we are moving more and more to being like zombies or robots and forgetting that what seems at first glance like the smoother-easier route, is really just our participating unwittingly in the race to the bottom.
20 Ways to Teach Your Children that Drugs Are NOT the Answer
Cape Cod Moms